Code Red for Humanity

Oil Refinery
International panel of climate scientists says temperatures will rise for decades, even in a best-case scenario

by Betty Spencer Dickey

There was a time when it was convenient to think about global warming and the destructive consequences it poses for life on Earth as a possible, but not necessarily probable, event happening in a distant future—a theoretical crisis that individuals could solve with simple measures, such as the change of a lightbulb. Those days are over according to Jonathan Hahn, the managing editor of Sierra Magazine*.

He says that “Governments’ stalled efforts to draw down greenhouse gas emissions—either because of a kind of muted trafficking in toothless pledges or due to right-wing political movements forcing delay, led by strident climate deniers like our former President and Jair Bolsonaro—now mean that an intensifying climate crisis is locked in for at least the next 30 years. That is the frightening takeaway from a major new United Nations report released on Monday Aug. 9, 2021.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, the most authoritative summary of climate science in the world, shows that for the next generation, increasing heat waves and wildfires, hurricanes and floods, drought and sea level rise are now inevitable. And the consequences could be dire—potentially leading to millions of people displaced, thousands of lives lost, and billions in economic damage.

While the IPCC does not prescribe specific policies, the report makes clear that whatever measures governments decide to take, they must involve the rapid and immediate cessation of the burning of fossil fuels for energy. “This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels before they destroy our planet,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement released with the report, calling it a “code red for humanity. “There must be no new coal plants built after 2021. OECD countries must phase out existing coal by 2030, with all others following suit by 2040. Countries should also end all new fossil fuel exploration and production and shift fossil fuel subsidies into renewable energy. By 2030, solar and wind capacity should quadruple and renewable energy investments should triple to maintain a net zero trajectory by mid-century.”

For all of us that means that we need to write and call our congress people over and over and insist that they do the work that we need on the Infrastructure Bill and the other bills that will begin to ease the Climate Crisis. We have no choice. This earth depends on it.

*See article from Sierra Club here.